Peru: Cusco – Chicha

After Puno and Amantani Island, our next stop was Cusco. Cusco used to be the Inca capital, and after being developed by the Inca King Pachacutec, it became the most important city of the Empire. After the Spanish conquered the Incas, they constructed their churches and other buildings on top of Inca ruins. Remnants of the Inca civilisation can still be seen today in the big solid stones used as foundations in many buildings – see the difference in the stonework on the right? The bottom is Inca stonework. They are strong, straight and meticulously cut.

Beautiful Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is lovely with its cobbled streets and plazas.

We ended up doing very little during our time there. On our first day we woke up stupidly early, considering we had no plans, and had a mediocre hotel breakfast. Before we left the hotel, I took advantage of the free wifi and researched restaurants so I could select one for lunch.

I decided on Chicha, which was opened in 2009 by Peru’s biggest celebrity chef: Gaston Acurio. (We also went to one of his restaurants in Lima – post on that to come.) Since we were going to be dining at another of his restaurants in Lima, I was interested in seeing how Chicha would compare, especially considering that the food at Chicha focuses on Andean cuisine and regional ingredients, while his other restaurants are more Peruvian fusion.

Before lunch, we ate a second breakfast at 10am because we’d eaten our first breakfast so early. Second breakfast was also mediocre. The sadness! At Chicha I definitely regretted eating two bad breakfasts because I wanted to order ALL THE THINGS. However, I managed to restrain myself and settled on one entree and two mains between the two of us.

After ordering, we were brought a tray of warm bread made from potato and corn. The rolls were very soft and slightly sweet, with a moreish fluffy texture. After half a roll I was in danger of filling up on bread already – and it made me curse the bad breakfasts again.

For an entree, we shared the Pastel De Choclo (29 soles) – an Andean corn pie with ground beef stuffing, baked in a wood fire oven. The pie was similar to a Shepherd’s pie, except the topping was made with corn. The corn topping meant it was quite sweet, but I still really enjoyed it: it was so moreish.

For mains, I had the Adobo (34 soles), which was a spicy pork casserole. It was so tasty: tender pork in a spicy, slightly vinegary stew. And that big chilli in the back was properly spicy. Joy oh joy! I had been missing spicy food because nothing we’d eaten in Peru so far was spicy at all.

Alastair had the Canelones de Ricota y espinaco (34 soles) – pasta filled with wild spinach and ricotta, baked with cheese. This dish was super creamy and absolutely smothered in cheese. It was actually a bit too much cheese and he couldn’t finish it.

We drank lemonade and sparkling water. Bit boring, but the lemonade was excellent.

Sadly we were way too full for dessert (damn that second breakfast yet again) but received some petit fours to finish. The purple jellies were made from purple corn and were like a chewy fruit jube.

We also had little biscuits – mini alfajores – which were AMAZING. Very crumbly and they just melted in the mouth.

I really liked Chicha, though Alastair’s dish wasn’t great. He ordered badly, I think. But I was happy, and that was the important thing. 😀

For more posts from our trip, check out the South America tag.

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